Fellow fussy foodie Claire has been know to describe herself as a ‘meat eating vegan’, a little strange you might think when vegans don’t eat meat. However with a diet that doesn’t contain dairy or eggs, we both almost fit into this category. Which recently has opened my eyes to the fact that a lot of vegan recipes and products are suitable for us, as they omit egg and dairy a few of the ingredients on my food intolerances list.
So I decided to investigate more about being a vegan; what it means and why people do it. So far I have found some fantastic dessert recipes to try that with some tweaking, mainly to make sugar free, should be the ultimate in Fussy Foodie friendliness.
Definition of a vegan via The Vegan Society:
- A vegan will not eat any animal products, for example: No meat, fish nor other products that come directly from killing an animal, such as animal fats and gelatine
- No dairy products such as cows’ milk, cheese and yogurt; nor goats’ milk
- No eggs nor foods containing eggs such as Quorn
- No honey
According to The Vegan Society, the main reasons for being vegan are “…concern for animals, people and the environment. Other people adopt a vegan diet to help improve their health.”
I really like the idea of not eating meat, but I just enjoy it too much and with excluding lots of the other food groups from my diet, I just don’t think I could do it. However for health reasons I do try to limit the amount of meat, especially red meat, that I consume in my diet. I think its a truly English culture to feel the need to have meat in every main meal, one of my favourite meals is infact vegan.
For anyone else on either a vegan diet, or a meat eating vegan (avoiding eggs, dairy, honey). Here are some great tips on products:
- Milk alternatives – the great news is there are loads of great milk alternatives. Anyone I know who has given up milk, including men, has found after not drinking the smell is unpleasant and you really don’t miss it as to replace it is fairly simple. It’s just a question of knowing what products you need to buy to replace standard milk products. It’s more of an issue when you eat out but cooking at home should be no problem with choices such as soya, rice and oat milk.
- No eggs – There are lots of vegan no egg recipes for dessert. If however you are also avoiding sugar and gluten free then this is more of a challenge. I am currently researching into some egg replacers to try and improve my egg free baking – so watch this space.
- Tofu – Tofu (made from soy milk) is nutritious and versatile. Plain tofu is bland so can absorb any flavour, savoury or sweet. It can even be used in stir-fry, pies, scramble, salad and sweet dishes such as chocolate mousse (might have to give that a try).
- Gelatin – Can be replaced with the light and versatile Agar Flakes
- Margarines – check out Soya Pure for a fantastic vegan and dairy free spread, as check any vegetable spread as they may contain vitamin D3, fish oils & whey.
- Hidden milks – It is important to ensure that your check for milk in any packaged products, as dairy is often sneaked in so look for milk or whey on the ingredients, you might not think it but lots of crisps and cereals have milk powder in.
- Sweeteners – Honey is an animal product so not vegan – Instead of honey try maple syrup, agave nectar, date syrup, molasses or concentrated apple juice and fruit jam.
- Pasta – can be made with eggs, use egg-free pasta instead – this is an easy swap just check the packet and in any restaurants.
- Thai curry paste – Some makes contain fish paste, however this is a great Thai paste.
- Chinese noodles – Can be made with eggs. Use rice noodles e.g thick rice noodles.
- Worcester sauce, usually contains anchovies – so try Geo Organics Worcester Sauce
- Dark Chocolate – Some contains butterfat so for a real cacao kick check out 100% Pure Cacao
- Ice cream – Vegan and totally tasty Booja Booja Ice Cream
Some other foods vegans need to look out for are:
- E471 – Can be animal OR non-animal based.
- Cochineal (E120) – A food colouring made from crushed beetles so not vegan (Nice – not!)
- Wine and beer – Sometimes fined with animal products – Ask your wine merchant for vegan wines and beers.
- Quorn – Contains egg so is never vegan.
So life as a vegan has the same hidden ingredient challenge as those of us with food intolerances. There are some fantastic vegan products and recipes out there and I can not wait to start trying more of them.